'Stray Dogs' film by Tsai Ming-liang

Festival of Chinese-Language Cinema To Put On 50th Anniversary Extravaganza

HONG KONG – Ang Lee, Taiwan’s most cinematically acclaimed son, will head the awards jury as the island’s Golden Horse festival puts on a show to remember for its ‘golden anniversary’ edition.

The festival (Nov. 8-28) has also recruited other iconic names from Greater Chinese cinema to accompany Lee. Hong Kong’s Johnnie To will join the jury for the Film Project Promotion project market; Taiwan cinema’s elder statesman Hou Hsiao-hsien will personally lead this year’s edition of the Film Academy; and Taiwan-based auteur Tsai Ming-liang will present his “Stray Dogs” as the festival’s opening film.

That is a bold choice. The film, which has its premiere in competition in Venice later this week, is a bleak depiction of a homeless family living on the streets of Taipei and experiencing the city at its most unforgiving.

The Golden Horse Awards, presented as the climax of the three week festival, style themselves as the most important film prizes for Chinese cinema. They are intended to reward the best of Chinese-language cinema in all its diversity, potentially including films from Taiwan, mainland China, Cantonese film from Hong Kong – as well as others from diaspora countries Malaysia and Singapore, where Chinese-language cinema is now on the increase.

The presence of two-time Oscar-winner Lee, who was born in Taiwan, but is now based in the US, is expected to give this year’s awards some added weight.

Hou (“A City of Sadness,” “Millennium Mambo,” “Three Times,” “Flight of the Red Balloon”) founded the Golden Horse Film Academy in 2009 to give the festival some educational heft. This year with Hou giving directing classes, the offshoot will operate as a month-long training school. The winning short film will be screened as part of the festival on Nov. 20.

Together with his fellow jurors, To, himself a three time Golden Horse Award winner, will decide the winner among 25 film development projects in search of co-producers and financial partners. The Grand Prize winner will receive a cash prize of NT$1 million ($9,900.)

The Film Project Promotion will run Nov. 19-21. The Golden Horse Awards ceremony will be held on the evening of Nov. 23.

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